What is Blended Learning?
According to Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker blended learning occurs “any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”
Here at DRPFConsults.com we support this hot topic in education, however the definition may startle some people because of the idea of students attaining their education at their own pace, in their own time, and at a place of their choice.
It certainly appears to be a worthy topic and one that will leave you wondering how it can be possible or effective.
It is an agreeable fact that if only some online learning was ‘blended’ with the conventional model of educational instruction and if students were allowed to study at their own pace and time, that there is hardly any guarantee they would benefit significantly or that the blended learning model would be successful and effective. Presently, the most common way of educating students is through gauging their presence and academic endeavors in a physical classroom setting, and not through individual learning.
Factors to Consider
Given the benefits of blended learning however, we can consider certain factors that render it to be successful.
A review was conducted at six district school systems where blended learning was initiated. The factors that were analyzed are described below.
• The Face-to-Face Factor – the instructor would leverage online learning on a case-by-case basis to enhance the learning process as well as a remedial, reinforcing instructional facility.
• Rotation – students alternate between online learning, one-to-one learning, self-paced and the conventional face-to-face instructional learning.
• Flex – students focus primarily on online learning and teachers lend on-site support on a needs basis through personal tutoring or conducting small group sessions.
• Online Lab – students study one entire course online within the school premises, while simultaneously taking other courses in the conventional way.
• Self-Blend – students study more than one online course on line, and are provided instruction in other disciplines in the traditional method.
• Online Instruction and learning – all courses and curricula are delivered and facilitated online and the students need not be present in the school premises.
If blended learning is carefully and effectively carried out, students benefit from more effective coaching and when they then comprehend the instruction on a self-paced basis, they do prove to be successful.
Through blended learning, schools too benefit in various ways such as needing less specialized teachers and physical space. Given the fact that so many senior teachers are approaching retirement age and the younger teachers are technically more adept, blended learning can help to alleviate a lot of staffing issues as well as reduce the achievement and aptitude gap among students.
Effective blended learning models should make it possible for instructors and students alike to exercise their imagination and innovative abilities.
While there are certain schools that are resistant to bringing about such a change as blended learning models, a report drafted by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker states if the following factors are well followed, then blended educational models can prove to be very successful and effective:
• Amalgamated systems that facilitate a smooth integration of online course content from various sources.
• High-quality, diverse content developed in such a way that it can be well adapted to state educational standards.
• Analytics – students’ learning outcomes should be well analyzed and understood.
• Course curriculum should be digitized in an effective and user friendly manner to render successful instruction and learning.
• The students’ enthusiasm level should be enhanced and boosted through various learning application tools that are engaging and fun to work with.